Thursday, October 27, 2011

10 Myths About Bookselling

I read this this morning and enjoyed it so much I thought I should share it.
Here are some excerpts from Lacey N. Dunham's Bookseller I'd Like to F*** column. Happy Thursday everyone! ;) - Jenn

10 Myths About Bookselling

MYTH 1: Booksellers Spend All Day Reading
Books don’t appear on the shelf in such a tidy order instantaneously. Someone has to unpack the FedEx boxes, add the books to the store inventory database, and place each one in the correct section (no Tolstoy in psychology, please!). Think of doing that for 200-300 books each day (double that on a new release day) all while answering phones, fielding customer questions, processing and sending out books ordered online, explaining e-books, setting up chairs for an author reading, hosting the author reading, updating the store’s social media, checking for shelving errors and re-alphabetizing as necessary, researching a rare title for a customer, collecting books for return to the publisher and selling books at the cash register — you understand why booksellers hate when people tell them, “Oh, I would love to sit and just read all day like you do.” Reading is the last thing booksellers have time to do.

MYTH 2: Booksellers Make Lots of Money, Otherwise Books Wouldn’t Cost So Much
Q: How do you make a small fortune in bookselling?
A: Start out with a large fortune.
Yes, books aren’t getting any cheaper, but neither is milk, bread, or a new car. For many of us, bookselling is a career we do as a labor of love. None of us are getting rich from it—but if you are topping off your bank account with this gig, I’d like to know if your store is hiring.

MYTH 3: Bookselling Isn’t a Career (i.e. so when are you getting a real job?
Although bookselling isn’t as lucrative as a law or business career, it’s still a career choice for literarily minded individuals who love working with the public by day and devouring books by night. Besides, if the legitimacy of a career is based on that career’s annual salary, than booksellers shouldn’t be the only ones asked by well-meaning family and friends when we’re finally going to get a “real” job

MYTH 4: Bookselling Is a Low-Stress Job
Any job is going to have high points and low moments; however, when you’re working with the public, it’s impossible to know if the next person who walks up to you is having the best day of his life and will shower you with rainbows and smiles or if he just lost the all-important Schnizicki account at work and is stomping into the bookstore like Godzilla.

MYTH 5: Booksellers Know Everything About Every Book Ever Published Since Gutenberg Invented the Printing Press

Booksellers possess pride in knowing the ins and outs of recently published books. However, if you’re looking for a book and you can’t recall the author, the title, what the book is about, where you heard about the book, or whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, we’re not going to be much help beyond recommending other books you might enjoy.

MYTH 6: Booksellers Are Literature Snobs
while you’re likely to find that one bookseller at every store who claims they only enjoy seventeenth-century Restoration era literature of the French persuasion, you’ll also find booksellers wild about J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and other “commercial” writers.

MYTH 7: Booksellers Have No Other Interests and Only Talk About Books All Day
The most satisfying and intellectually stimulating conversation I’ve ever had on the topics of our “post-race” culture and the deconstruction of meaning behind Orko’s curious garb both occurred while bookselling.

MYTH 8: Booksellers Just Want to Sell You Something
Ninety-nine percent of booksellers aren’t used car salesmen. We want you to find a book you’ll love because reading should be a passionate endeavor driven by your lust for another page.

MYTH 9: Bookselling is Dead (or Dying)
The entire publishing and retail book industry is experiencing a titanic shift and while this will result in a few casualties, one or two missing limbs (or the entire collapse of Borders) it isn’t the same as flat lining. Publishers are worried. Writers are worried. Bookstore owners are worried. The next few years will be rocky but I firmly believe—and the news of bookstores thriving in the face of Borders decline and Amazon’s giant paws dirtying everything should be proof—that bookselling and books are going to survive.

MYTH 10: That Cute Bookseller You’ve Been Flirting With Won’t Date You

Read more from Lacey N. Dunham on her Bookseller I'd Like to F*** column on


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